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Ranking the Warriors draft picks since 1989: Picks 21-30

This is a surprisingly lackluster group!

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have made some spectacular draft picks over the years. They’ve also made some rather horrendous ones. So why not rank them all?

But simply ranking every draft pick in Warriors history would be a little fruitless, because obviously those taken at the top of draft are likely to be better. Instead, I wanted to focus on the players drafted within certain slots.

So I ranked all of the Warriors draft picks by section: Picks 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60.

A few notes:

  • I needed a cutoff somewhere, so I went with 1989. Why? That’s when the NBA Draft switched to two rounds. In 1988, for example, there were three rounds and 75 picks. 1971, the first year that they were officially the Golden State Warriors? 19 rounds and 237 players.
  • I’m only using players that the Warriors effectively drafted. Players they technically drafted but traded are not included; however, players they didn’t technically draft but immediately acquired are included. In other words, Antawn Jamison counts but Vince Carter does not.
  • I’m valuing players in a vacuum. It’s a ranking of how good the player is, not how good the selection was. So Adonal Foyle isn’t docked for being taken one slot ahead of Tracy McGrady. That said, I’m including a note as to what other players might have been available, just for context and self-loathing.
  • I’m only judging players based on NBA production — with or without the Warriors — but I will note what they’ve done outside of the NBA.

Wednesday covered slots 51-60. All four of them. Thursday was slots 41-50, and Friday was Draymond Green’s area: 31-40. Now it’s time for the end of the first round: 21-30.

It turns out 21-30 hasn’t been a great area for the Warriors. See for yourself:

11. Shaun Vandiver

25th overall, 1991 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats

Notable players selected after him

1991 was a good NBA Draft at the very top. Dikembe Mutombo, Larry Johnson, Steve Smith, and Kenny Anderson all went in the top-five. The fifth player in that group was Billy Owens though, so maybe this is the wrong crowd to be making that point to.

But it fell off after that, so much so that I couldn’t find any notable names among the 29 players selected after Vandiver. A few players who had decently long careers as noteless bench players, but nothing exciting.

Count Vandiver among the nothing exciting. He didn’t play a single NBA game, though he spent nearly a decade playing in Europe. He’s currently an assistant coach at Wyoming.

10. Steve Logan

30th overall, 2002 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats

Notable players selected after him
Carlos Boozer, Matt Barnes, Dan Gadzuric, Roger Mason Jr., Rasual Butler, Luis Scola

Like Vandiver, Logan didn’t play a single game, for the Warriors or in the NBA.

So why give him the nod when they both finished with the same lack of stepping on an NBA court?

Logan gets some off-court NBA points, for standing up to the Warriors and having a contract dispute. At the time, there were 29 teams in the NBA, meaning there were 29 first round picks and 29 second round picks.

Technically speaking, Logan went 30th overall, with the first pick in the second round. But the 29th and final pick in the first round was forfeited due to salary cap violations by the Minnesota Timberwolves. So while Logan’s resume says he was picked 30th, he was actually the 29th player drafted.

First-round selections come with guaranteed contracts, and Logan and his agent fought the Warriors for one. But since he was technically a second-round pick, the Warriors didn’t have to offer him one, and he refused to sign a non-guaranteed deal.

He never played an NBA game, which is pretty remarkable considering he was an All-American in college.

9. Nemanja Nedović

30th overall, 2013 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats (1 year, 24 games)
5.9 minutes, 1.1 points, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Raul Neto, James Ennis, Allen Crabbe, Mike Muscala

Wikipedia has informed me that Nedović was the final draft selection that David Stern announced during his 30-year tenure as NBA commissioner. That’s the only noteworthy thing about his career.

8. Les Jepsen

28th overall, 1990 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (1 year, 21 games)
5.0 minutes, 1.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.1 blocks per game

Career stats (2 years, 52 games)
3.7 minutes, 1.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.2 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Toni Kukoc, Cedric Ceballos, Antonio Davis, Jud Buechler, Bimbo Coles, Greg Foster

Admittedly Jepsen only played 192 minutes in his career, but I’m weirdly amused by the fact that he played 52 games and totaled only 2 assists.

7. Jacob Evans

28th overall, 2018 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 57 games)
10.8 minutes, 2.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game

Career stats (2 years, 59 games)
10.5 minutes, 2.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Devonte’ Graham, Mitchell Robinson, De’Anthony Melton, Rodions Kurucs, Hamidou Diallo, Svi Mykhailiuk

I held irrational hope that Evans would develop into a good NBA player for far too long. And I would likely still hold that irrational hope had the Warriors not traded him to a dysfunctional organization with an unproven head coach that hasn’t developed a non-elite prospect in . . . decades?

Now my irrational hope has turned into rational pessimism.

Ultimately, Evans is a wing without a three-point jump shot and with limited ability to penetrate or beat his man off the dribble. He was drafted for defense and playmaking, but doesn’t do those things nearly well enough to negate those other flaws.

6. Damian Jones

30th overall, 2016 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (3 years, 49 games)
11.9 minutes, 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game

Career stats (4 years, 104 games)
14.1 minutes, 4.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Malcolm Brogdon, Ivica Zubac

You know how some players put up big stat lines, but it’s still clear that they’re just not very good?

Jones is the poor man’s version of that, in that he hasn’t put up big stat lines, but it still feels like they oversell his ability.

If you stretch out Jones playing time, he looks like a serviceable NBA center: Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game (also 5.9 fouls, but let’s conveniently ignore that). He’s a career 66.6% shooter, and 67.6% free throw shooter (in the last two years those numbers jump to 69.0% and 71.1%, respectively).

But have you ever watched Jones and thought, “Hey, that guy looks like an NBA player?” I’m guessing no.

Still, he played more games in one pandemic-shortened season with the Atlanta Hawks than in three years with the Warriors, so perhaps he’ll get a chance to further grow and develop in coming seasons.

5. Vonteego Cummings

26th overall, 1999 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 141 games)
23.3 minutes, 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game

Career stats (3 years, 199 games)
19.0 minutes, 6.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Manu Ginobili

Sometimes you just don’t know how a player’s career is going to unfold. Cummings averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game as a rookie for the Warriors. Two years later, he averaged 3.3 points and 1.0 assists per game, while struggling to find any playing time for the Philadelphia 76ers. One year later he was waived in training camp by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And that was his NBA story.

4. Festus Ezeli

30th overall, 2012 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats (3 years, 170 games)
14.1 minutes, 4.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Jae Crowder, Tomáš Satoranský, Will Barton, Mike Scott, Kyle O’Quinn

Ezeli’s story is a bit of a sad one. He flashed lots of potential as a rim protector, but injuries took his career from him before he really had a chance to take off. His career stats don’t look particularly good, but if you watched him, you expected him to last a while as a solid NBA contributor. Unfortunately, his knee had other plans.

He was also the victim of a horrific Mark Jackson motivational tactic, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported:

When Ezeli was injured last season, Jackson and his staff told the healthy players that Ezeli was cheering against them — so that he would look good, according to several team sources. Players confronted Ezeli in a meeting, and he wept at the accusation — which he denied.

Ezeli was also once pranked by an undercover Andre Iguodala, and made to believe he’d been cut.

That’s a lot of drama for a short career.

Ultimately, if there’s one upside to Ezeli’s story, it’s that he got about $8 million from the Portland Trail Blazers (even though he never played a game for them) before the knee injury fully surfaced. So while his NBA story was cut short, at least he’s financially set.

3. Jordan Poole

28th overall, 2019 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats (1 year, 57 games)
22.4 minutes, 8.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Kevin Porter Jr., Cody Martin

Check back on this list in a few years and Poole could have risen a spot higher, or fallen off. His story is far from being told.

He’s been bad as a rookie, but almost every rookie is. What’s more important is what he’s shown, and he’s shown a lot of promise, particularly as a playmaker. He’s been a far better passer and creator than I suspect even the most optimistic Warriors coaches could have predicted.

His vision is spectacular, and his ability to make crisp, fast passes with either hand — after manipulating defenses to draw players in — is mesmerizing.

If Poole’s jumper comes around — he’s shooting 27.9% from distance after shooting 37.0% in college — he could become a very, very good player.

If it doesn’t? Well, uhh . . .

2. Kevon Looney

30th overall, 2015 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats (5 years, 224 games)
13.9 minutes, 4.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Josh Richardson, Montrezl Harrell, Norman Powell, Richaun Holmes, Cedi Osman

Between Looney’s time in the league and the fact that he looks older than he is, it’s easy to forget that he only just turned 24. He’s a full year younger than Andrew Wiggins, and only nine months older than Eric Paschall.

In other words, he’s still developing. And his modest stats don’t do anything to represent how good of a player he is, and the impact that he has on the court.

He’s a sensational interior defender, who is one of the best in the league at switching onto perimeter players. He played an enormous role in the Warriors victory over the Houston Rockets in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

Here’s hoping the injuries that derailed his 2019-20 season don’t cut his career short.

1. Latrell Sprewell

24th overall, 1992 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (6 years, 400 games)
40.0 minutes, 20.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game

Career stats (13 years, 913 games)
38.6 minutes, 18.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
P.J. Brown

It’s likely that Sprewell will always be remembered most for choking coach P.J. Carlesimo. Which is understandable.

But the dude could play basketball at a very high level. He was a four-time All-Star, including three times with the Warriors. He averaged 24.2 points per game for the Dubs in 1996-97, his last full season with the team (the next year, his final season in the Bay, was cut short due to a 68-game suspension for the aforementioned choking).

He also made the All-NBA team and the All-Defense team in just his second season. He could flat out play.

He’s also responsible for the most self-aware commercial in NBA history:


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